I think Billy once said that. Mm-hmm. Anyways, this post is going up a couple hours early, ’cause I just feel like it.
— Summer vacation is about to come to an end, and for some reason, Akira is off her game. Because she never talks, Haruo can never know what’s truly bothering her. Not yet, anyways. It’s possible for two people to spend so much time together that they understand each other perfectly. Unfortunately, it looks like the kid has only known her for a few months.
— This shot kinda implies that Akira is about to undergo a major change.
— We next see Haruo and Akira at a flower garden along with a bunch of other kids. Doi is the popular guy who tried to ask Akira out in last week’s episode. He was summarily ignored by our great ojousama. He assumes, however, that Akira must have turned him down because she was uncomfortable with 1-on-1 dates. He figures that if he makes it a group function, the girl will come along. Well, she’s here, but I suspect it’s only because Haruo is also here. She wants to spend time with him.
— So why did Doi invite Haruo as well? Apparently, he invited all of the dorks in class. He thinks that this will make him look cool by comparison. Doi’s problem is that he thinks Akira is stupid. C’mon, it’s pretty easy to see through such a paper-thin ruse.
— Man, what kind of middle schooler dreams of getting a fiancee?
— Haruo only cares about games, so he suggests that they slide on over to the nearby theme park. Why? Because amusement parks tend to have arcades. Okay, I’m being harsh. He does care about Akira a bit. That’s also obvious enough.
— Even though he wanted to stick with the flower garden, Doi quickly embraces the theme park option. He starts fantasizing about how he’ll impress Akira through the various attractions. He’ll then seal the deal on the ferris wheel, because that’s apparently where all the romance goes down. Doi even thinks he’ll reach third base. Yo, have you even gotten to first base before?
— Plus, this base thing always changes depending on who you ask. I think it’s supposed to be oral sex, right? Well, whatever it is, these kids are too young for that! Pardon me while I scream at a cloud like an old man.
— But the truth is, we did talk about oral sex back then, didn’t we? Well, my middle school did. I dunno about you guys…
— This kid has a solid suggestion, but first, I really want to know if they are supposed to be a guy or a girl.
— Ah, that kid is apparently female.
— This entire time, Akira is really only paying any attention to Haruo. She’s always stealing glances at him. Nobody around her notices this, of course. Certainly not Doi. That just goes to show you that his fixation for the girl is shallow. If you really like someone, you pay attention to them. You obsess over every little action they make.
— After a mini time skip, Haruo manages to slip away from the overly curious girl and find his safe haven. As he turns the corner, however, he finds that Akira is already here:
Of course, nobody in the audience is surprised to see her here. Haruo is the only person who seems shocked. Stop fighting it, kid. You two are kindred spirits. Just accept it. You’re the yin to her yang. You talk too much, and she doesn’t talk at all. She’s smart, and you’re dumb. I’m sure there are other examples, but whatever. This is good enough.
— Here comes the torrential pour of trivia about games I’ve never played. You should know the drill by now. She listens as he shows off his encyclopedic level knowledge of these games. But for the sake of brevity, I’m not gonna cover any of this scenes from here on out unless they start talking about games that I actually played back in the day. Like, y’know, Super Mario World.
— Nintendo usually has a stick up its ass, so I doubt they would ever help a TV show fawn over one of its games like how the first episode was an ode to Street Fighter II. What a shame.
— Haruo still notices that something is off about Akira. She doesn’t talk, but he’s getting a better feel of her emotions day-by-day. He’s just not quite there yet. Haruo wonders why she even bothered to come. I wanna scream, “She came for you, you dork!” But honestly, I wouldn’t be able to understand Akira either. As a passive observer, certain things are obvious to us. Clearly, Haruo has to operate with even less information.
— It becomes increasingly obvious that Akira has no intention of rejoining the rest of the group. She just wants to spend time with Haruo. She continues to suggest games and after games for them to play together. Akira used to only want to play alone. Y’know, gun for the high score or something. Well, we’re not getting any of that nonsense in this week’s episode.
— Elsewhere, it sounds like Doi managed to have a whale of a time with that weird girl.
— Once it starts to get late, the two kids finally wander away from the arcade to enjoy the rest of the theme park. As a result, Haruo ends up getting to enjoy all of those same rides and activities that Doi had wanted to do with Akira. All that’s missing is the obligatory romantic moment on the ferris wheel.
— Two rounds in to Street Fighter II and she gives you this look…
— Unfortunately, the park is closed, so Haruo and Akira have to skip the ferris wheel for now. Still, he gets to ride home on the bus with the girl alone, so that’s still something. A girl resting her head on your shoulder is like… well, it’s not first base, that’s for sure. It’s like fouling out at the plate. At least you didn’t strike out.
— Haruo is impressively empathetic towards Akira’s situation. He doesn’t really have a clue what she’s dealing with, but he’s nevertheless patient with her. He always tells himself that she must be dealing with something. At his age, you expect kids to be a little more selfish and self-centered.
— When school finally starts up again, rumors start flying about Akira. What’s certain is that the girl is moving away. Welp. All Haruo can do is sit there in shock. He doesn’t even really know how he really feels about Akira. He never really thought about it. And now she’s moving away. What is he supposed to think?
— During Akira’s going away party, everyone claps and cheers for the girl except for Haruo. He’s still grappling with his feelings. Well, he’s a kid. These things take time. There are adults who still don’t know what they truly want or how they truly feel. That’s just the sad truth.
— Everyone even has presents for Akira. Doi gives her this weird stuffed animal that she can’t possibly take on the plane with her. I mean, c’mon, what an idiot.
— On the other hand, Haruo doesn’t have anything to give Akira. He claims he forgot, but we’ll find out later that this isn’t true. He simply didn’t know what to get her. He still doesn’t.
— In front of everybody, Haruo tries to act cool. Everyone but Akira gets on his case. Akira has no reaction. Of course, she never talks. At the same time, however, she also knows that he’s kind and considerate. I mean, he was willing to walk home in socks just for her. Actions speak louder than words, so I don’t think Haruo’s cool act bothers her one bit.
— After Akira departs with her butler, Haruo heads off to the arcade. He starts to sort out his ambivalent feelings. He hates her, but he respects her. He now has his safe space back, but he’ll also miss her. She bruised his ego by being better at him than almost every arcade game, but at the same time, he was happy to have finally met an equal. I really like this scene, because it accurately portrays that awkward transition in life. At some point, you start thinking of girls as “not-boys.” Instead, you think of them as people of interest. Well, I don’t think I put that correctly, but I think you get the point. Haruo’s not in love with Akira or anything, but obviously, she means more to him than just another classmate.
— All of the games around him start cheering him on. Spurred by their words of encouragement, Haruo races off to the airport to see Akira off one last time. This is more what I had hoped the anime to be. I don’t really care about random trivia about games. I wanted the games to contribute significantly to the story. And obviously, Haruo doesn’t actually think that the games are speaking to him. He’s not crazy (at least, I hope not…). Rather, he’s trying to convince himself to get off his ass and start moving, but he’s still, y’know, embarrassed about the whole situation. So instead, it makes more sense to pretend that the games are motivating him.
— We still have no clue what Akira’s parents look like. We only ever see her with the butler or that mean, ol’ tutor. That goes to show you how sad her home life is. She only ever gets her emotional support from people who are definitively not her family.
— When Haruo finally gets to the airport, he starts going on and on about an upcoming arcade game. That’s his awkward way of saying that he’ll miss her. Oh man, this kick-ass moment in gaming history is about to happen, and we won’t be able to share it! It’s equally sweet and sad. She can’t communicate properly with him, because she has issues talking. He can’t communicate properly with her, because he’s still somewhat of a social outcast. But at least they understand each other.
— Ah, there’s that ring. His parting gift to Akira is a cheap plastic ring that he had won from that spooky arcade. But of course, they found that place together, so there’s sentimental value up the wazoo here. And as a result, she dives into his arms and starts wailing. This is the most noise she has probably made in months (if not years).
— What’s vexing is that nobody — not even Haruo — truly knows the extent of Akira’s anguish. We don’t get to see any of it. We don’t get to hear her talk about it. Like Haruo, we can only stand on the periphery and peek in every now and then. We have no clue what she’s going through.
— Two girls — maybe her sisters? – eventually drag Akira way. This scene looks odd at first, because it isn’t animated. Instead, we just watch as a single frame zooms out on us. But it’s obvious, isn’t it? This is the mental picture that is etched forever into Haruo’s memory. This is what he pictures every time he thinks back to this very moment. That’s why it isn’t animated. That’s why nobody is moving. All he sees in his mind’s eye is Akira with tears and snot all over her face. Finally, the picture slowly fades away into white nothingness like how a memory would.
— He also has some scratch marks on his face to remember her by, but hey, those will probably fade with time too.
— Well, a time skip is unavoidable at this point, right? I wonder how old they’ll be when they meet each other again.
— This is the first episode that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. It’s the first episode that pushed all of the gaming stuff to the background and truly focused on the characters. I didn’t hate the first two episodes, but I also didn’t really care for them either. They had their moments, but ultimately, they didn’t emotionally resonate with me. But this week’s episode definitely did. It was great. It’s probably going to be the best episode that I’ll watch this whole week. For once, I’m eager to see what happens next in High Score Girl.